Tuesday, February 1, 2011

GNYC Q&A: Chris Miskiewicz Everywhere

Words: Seth Kushner
[Horses: Andrew Wendel]
Please read the following - in your head - in your best Rod Serling voice: Imagine if you will, a situation where a single species of animal, be it spiders, horses, kittens, etc., are running rampant, for no discernible reason. Okay, Serling voice off.

Everywhere, the new webcomic anthology on ACT-I-VATE.com is the brainchild of writer and actor Chris Miskiewicz, who you might recognize as the guy standing behind your favorite star in too many movies and television series to name, or the guy standing behind you at your favorite watering hole, possibly talking your ear off with tales of animals run amok.

Full discosure: Miskiewicz is a friend of mine and I know all about his new series to the point where I’ve heard him drone on and on about it for the past year.  In fact, I’ve even contributed to the series with the upcoming photocomic installment, "Spiders Everywhere."  But for the sake of those unfamiliar, l’ll walk that fine line of journalistic integrity and play dumb and pretend to be completely unfamiliar.  Hey, don’t judge, if I didn’t think was a worthy and valid series, I wouldn’t be doing this!

What can you tell us about the The Everywhere Anthology coming out on ACT-I-VATE?

It’s basically a b-movie animal disaster comic with a Twilight Zone kind of twist. You wake up and there’s a single animal species “Everywhere” around the world. It’s just these offbeat slice of life stories of people thrown into the middle of craziness.

Knowing you as I do, I have to ask, how much of a role did alcohol play in the creation of Everywhere?

I can’t remember.

[Worms: Rick Parker]
But seriously, what is the "secret origin" (to put it in comics speak) of the project?

Honestly, there was a lot of bourbon involved that night.

I was in the Mark Bar in Greenpoint with artist Andrew Wendel talking about another project we were pitching when we sort of got off track, and got very drunk, and this came out of the air. I believe his line was “anything can happen in comics” to make a point against something I was saying, moments later we started riffing on what would become “Everywhere.”

It was a fun “Twilight Zone” kind of idea, so I went with it and started scripting the first few episodes. They were fun, strange, so I kept going and wrote out the first season’s worth. I didn’t want to do a straight out creature feature, as much as a series of off-beat tales that were maybe set somewhere inside of a creature feature.

I sent the scripts to Dean Haspiel to hear his thoughts, and he emailed me back a few times in an hour followed by a phone call saying, “This is an ACT-I-VATE comic.” We had a meeting about it, and then I starting looking for artists. 

Let’s talk about the roster of artists you’ve lined up. Who did you approach? And, how difficult was it to get artists to commit to what is essentially a "free" project?

Strangely it wasn’t as hard as you’d think. ACT-I-VATE’s a great site and I think that everyone wanted to have something new on it. The idea is odd enough that most of the artists involved started riffing on an episode while we spoke about them. I think that the first batch of scripts are quirky with a lot of room to play in. Also, episodes runs somewhere between 8 – 16 pages, which are web sized pages, so it wasn’t a terrible page count to get through.

We’re featuring the art of Andrew Wendel, Rick Parker (Marvel, MTV's Beavis & Butthead, Dennis Calero (X-Men), Ashley Quigg, Nathan Schreiber (Power Out), Maurice Fontenot (Ghost Pimp), Thomas Baehr (The End is Here), Seth Kushner, Kate McElroy (Fables 100), Bobby Timony (Night Owls), Chris Sinderson (Next-Door Neighbor/Twisted/Savage Dragon Funnies), and Rodney Ramos (Transmetropolitan/Green Lantern) with more to come.

[Penguins: Thomas Baehr]
How did the process of working with the individual artists go? Were you overall pleased with the collaborations?

I’m really happy with the work. I’m also really lucky to have gotten this group together. There are so many hands, styles, and talents on something like this that each episode becomes its own thing, but still has to groove into the larger piece.

Some episodes have come out better than the scripts. Maurice Fontenot keeps blowing my mind with his pages. He’s doing “Kittens.” I think that sentence is going to read wrong later.

Rick Parker was a total gentleman to work with.

And Andrew Wendel really captured a great noir b-movie feel with our first episode, “Horses Everywhere.”

Bobby Timony’s episode is really funny. You’ll see what I mean in a few months.

And Nathan Schrieber just finished “Hipsters Everywhere” which will be appearing in the March edition of Overflow Magazine.

How does it feel having Everywhere launch on the 5 year anniversary of ACT-I-VATE?

Yeah. That was a bit of a surprise when Dean told me that part. I’ve loved clicking through this site for years and it’s an honor to be a part of it. One of the things that I dig about this project is that its going to bring new creators and ideas through the site, which is pretty much what ACT-I-VATE’s charter is. They’re bringing a free alternative publishing platform to comics. It’s great to be a part of that, and I think that an anthology is nice nod to what ACT-I-VATE’s about. 

[Whales: Ashley Quigg]
Will you be posting new installments weekly, which seems to be AIV’s model?

No. This is going to be a monthly series, posted at the beginning of every month.

How many of episodes of Everywhere will there be? In other words how many until you're doing Aardvarks Everywhere?

I don’t have Aardvarks…yet!!!

There are twelve episodes currently underway, which is pretty much the first year’s worth of story. I’m planning on another six after that which leaves us at an eighteen episode season, If you excuse the TV speak. But if we hit that number and Frank Miller wanted to do one, I wouldn’t turn the guy down.

If it’s a success after this season I might consider doing more or turn it over to different writers/artists and move on to editing. But let’s see if people like it first.

What else do you do besides write animal disaster comics?

I’m a writer/actor. I often call myself a “wractor.” Get it?



What have you been in?

A few TV shows, indies, and shorts. I’ve got the basic NYC actor guy story right now.

Weren’t you on Life on Mars (the cancelled-after one-season ABC 1970’s cop show which followed Lost a couple of years ago)?

You’d have to strain your eyes to see me, but yea. I was in most episodes as one of the twenty Detectives who were always in the precinct. I recently got asked if I’d like to go over a friend’s house and play a “find the Miskiewicz drinking game” because they had just gotten the season on DVD. I’m not sure how drunk they’d get looking for me. Depends on the bourbon.

Brooklyn native Chris Miskiewicz is a multi-media performer working in television, film, music and comics. He is a founding member of the Brooklyn based psychedelic rock group Swinger Eight, and producer the upcoming web series Secret Identity.
He’s the writer of Everywhere published monthly on ACTIVATECOMIX.COM.